Inducted in 2013
Edward J. “Ted” Koplar built a career on doing what he’d been told could not be done. He grew KPLR-TV into one of the most successful independent television stations in the country, launched an animated TV sensation that swept the nation, and pioneered a revolutionary technology that made television interactive, among many other accomplishments. All of this was done with courage to contravene traditional thinking and an appetite for risk that would characterize his career and leave a lasting impact on the broadcast industry. Launching his broadcast career with family-owned KPLR-TV, Koplar worked behind the scenes producing sports programming and other shows. He developed the station’s first regular newscast, which became the number one independent television newscast in the U.S. within three years. KPLR became the first broadcast facility in the country to own and operate a satellite earth station, introducing a revolutionary distribution platform to the St. Louis region.
After an extraordinary run as an independent, KPLR became affiliated with the WB network in 1995, and was sold to Acme Communications in 1998. World Events Productions, Ltd (WEP) was founded by Koplar in 1980, a company whose mission was to seek out and produce innovative programming concepts unlike anything that was then seen on the air. Its namesake show, World Events, featured a young Bob Costas covering such events as the Paris Air Show, and a speech by General Omar Bradley commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Normandy D-Day Invasion. Branching into children’s animation, in 1984 WEP introduced the mega-hit series Voltron: Defender of the Universe, which became an overnight sensation and aired in more than 80 countries worldwide. Capitalizing on its success in children’s animation, WEP went on to produce the hit shows Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, Denver the Last Dinosaur and Vytor: The Starfire Champion. In 1998, Koplar revitalized Voltron with the Emmy-Award winning Voltron: The Third Dimension. This half-hour show was the first computer-generated 3D animated series produced entirely in the United States. The franchise has left a lasting legacy, and its latest iteration, Voltron Force premiered in June of 2011 to record ratings on Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons network.
Koplar worked his way up the ranks at KPLR to become the President and CEO in 1979. Proving itself to be “the Ones to Watch,” KPLR featured Cardinals baseball, Blues hockey and must-see programming such as Cheers, Seinfeld, and one of Koplar’s personal favorites, the Three Stooges. Under Koplar’s leadership, KPLR was consistently ranked among the top independent television stations in the country, making its way to number one on several occasions.